Best SPF for dark skin tones 2020: sunscreens for people of colour

T3’s roundup of the best sunscreens for darker skin

Best SPF products and sunscreens for darker skin tones
(Image credit: Getty)

Men and women with darker complexions, or more generally, people of colour have one thing in common: not finding the right SPF product that suits their skin tone, and one that does not leave a white cast on their face, which is the primary reason people of colour tend to avoid SPF products altogether. But you'd be wrong to do so…

There are several myths that need to be debunked when it comes to SPF and darker skin tones. Those with darker complexions are led to believe that ‘Black don’t crack’ and therefore do not need SPF as much as those with Caucasian skin. 

This leads many to believe that Black skin does not need sunscreen, and this is false. 

“All skin, white or black, needs some sort of SPF. Different factors show age in different skin types, for example, Caucasian skin types will show more wrinkles and fine lines earlier than a black woman. It doesn’t mean a black woman won’t get wrinkles, they’ll just onset later. A black woman suffers from more mottled skin and hyperpigmentation and they are also signs of ageing. If you’ve been out in the sun without any sun protection, the evidence will show up your skin", says aesthetician and founder of the Black Skin Directory, Dija Ayodele.

How to choose the best SPF products for darker skin tones

You might ask, what type of sunscreen should I use? It’s recommended that women/men of colour use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) mineral sunscreen (also known as a 'physical') instead of a chemical sunscreen that is at least at a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 50 at the minimum, according to Dr Vanita Rattan at the Hyperpigmentation Clinic who specialises in skin for women and men of colour. 

This is because mineral sunscreens have active ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide that sit on the skin and reflects UV rays like a mirror before they can even cause any potential damage, in comparison to chemical sunscreens that have chemical compounds such as Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octocrylene and Octisalate that essentially allow a chemical reaction to take place, which the skin later disperses. 

Although the choice really is yours, its best to stick to a mineral/physical sunscreen due to its more natural ingredients.

The best 5 sunscreens for darker skin you can buy today:

Best SPF products for darker skin tones: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defence SPF 30

(Image credit: Drunk Elephant)

1. Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defence SPF 30

Most popular physical sunscreen

Reasons to buy
+Broad spectrum physical SPF+Clean ingredients, suitable for all skin types
Reasons to avoid
-Leaves a slight white cast -Only goes up to SPF 30 

This SPF product is Oxybenzone-free and is suitable for those looking for a natural sun protection. It’s a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection that helps the skin against free radical and oxidative damage. This product is infused with raspberry seed and marula oils, which bring the added moisture to the skin. It has a sheer formula, meaning it does not leave a white cast, but with darker skin tones this product needs to be blended in more to reduce the visibility of the white cast that it can leave at times. Overall, it is very hydrating, fragrance free and is made with the cleanest ingredients so it’s suitable for all skin types especially those with sensitive skin.

Best SPF products for darker skin tones: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50

(Image credit: It Cosmetics)

2. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50

Best selling CC+ cream with SPF 50

Reasons to buy
+Colour correcting cream that works as a full-coverage foundation with SPF 50+Is 2 in 1, good for those multitasking
Reasons to avoid
-Only has 3 shades for darker skin -Can leave the face greasy unless set with powder

This product is a 2-in-1 foundation with SPF with anti-ageing properties. It gives you a flawless complexion and offers a really good coverage overall. The only downside to Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream is that it can become a little bit greasy on the skin (depending on the skin you have) if not set with powder, so it might be worth having two separate products for foundation and SPF if this combination does not work for you. There is a whole shade range to choose from, but with the darker shades it is limited to only three shades, but for someone who is always on the go and wants to spend minimal time in front of the mirror, this product is definitely for you.

Best SPF products for darker skin tones: Colorscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50

(Image credit: Colourscience)

3. Colorscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50

Recommended for women of colour by the Hyperpigmentation Clinic

Reasons to buy
+Broad spectrum physical SPF with shades for all skin types +This brand also has a brush-on shield to top up your SPF throughout the day
Reasons to avoid
-Shades might not suit all darker complexions, get a sample first -Can be costly in the long-run 

This product is powered by EnviroScreen Technology and has an antioxidant-rich mineral formula that protects the skin from environmental aggressors. This SPF product comes in three different shades: glow, which has a golden-champagne formula that can be used under makeup for a dewy finish; medium original, which is a universal shade that leaves no white cast, and bronze that is made for darker skintones. This brand is known for offering SPF products that leave no white cast and for the very fact that it’s a mineral/physical sunscreen, meaning this is the most suited and recommended for women/men of colour and those of darker skin complexions. This brand also offers a brush-on you can use to top of your sunscreen throughout the day on top of your makeup.

Best SPF products for darker skin tones: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

(Image credit: Neutrogena)

4. Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

Most affordable physical SPF

Reasons to buy
+Broad spectrum physical SPF+Affordable and suitable for all skin types
Reasons to avoid
-Takes long to blend into the skin  -Difficult to find in UK stores so purchase online 

This is by far the most affordable physical SPF product available on the market. It is loved amongst women of colour as it does not leave that dreaded white cast that most sunscreens do. It’s naturally sourced with 100% zinc oxide technology and protects against UVB and UVA. It’s free of fragrance, parabens and other irritating chemicals. This SPF product is also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, is non-comedogenic, oil free and has even been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance so it’s suitable for even those with the most sensitive skin. If you’ve never used SPF before and you are looking to start now, this is a good product to start with.

Best SPF products for darker skin tones: Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Daily Face Lightweight Lotion SPF 40

(Image credit: Supergoop!)

5. Supergoop! Zincscreen 100% Mineral Daily Face Lightweight Lotion SPF 40

Known for creating SPF products with no white cast

Reasons to buy
+Broad spectrum physical SPF+Invisible, weightless and scentless
Reasons to avoid
-The SPF range available to purchase in the UK is limited    -Can be costly in the long-run

This brand is known to have changed the sunscreen industry as it’s all-inclusive and offers an invincible shield that leaves no white cast at all on the face, even for those with darker skin tones. It is undetectable and does not clog your pores. The brand has said these non-greasy shields in the product have clean skincare ingredients in them that are good for your skin and even has blue-light neutralising red algae to the hydrating meadowfoam seed to further protect the skin. This broad-spectrum product is suitable for even the most sensitive skin because it has clean ingredients, and for the fact that is free from alcohol and artificial fragrance.

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